NEWS

Fire safety a must for hunting season

The smallest spark can start a wildfire that can impact hunting across the state

8/17/2020 7:33:55 PM

Cheyenne - Hunters need to be especially cautious this fall with fire safety. With drought conditions impacting much of Wyoming, the smallest spark can start a wildfire that can impact hunting across the state. 

To prevent impacts to hunting seasons and access, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has instituted fire restrictions and bans on many Commission-owned and administered lands across the state. Check Game and Fish webpages for rules in each region.

“A fire ban is meant to keep the public safe and protect wildlife habitat,“ said Ray Bredehoft, Wyoming Game and Fish Department habitat and access branch chief. “If there are restrictions on Game and Fish property, they will be posted on the website as they are implemented or lifted.”

Currently, Game and Fish has fire bans in the Laramie, Lander, Sheridan and Casper regions. In a fire ban, the following acts are prohibited on all Game and Fish Commission-owned and administered lands:
 

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal grill, or coal or wood burning stove
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, at a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials
  • Fireworks are always prohibited on Wyoming Game and Fish lands
  • Fires within an established ring are also banned in Public Access Areas under this regulation

The U.S. Forest Service and other land-management agencies may also have fire bans on their property. Hunters should check with each respective land-management agency to see if their camping location has any fire restrictions or rules.

A wildfire that starts and burns through the fall can also have significant effects on hunting access.

“Some of our hunt areas had to close completely in previous years as a result of fires in the area,” Bredehoft said. 

A fall wildfire, with its increased temperature and drier conditions, scorches the soil and sterilizes it to the point that native plants struggle to recover for years. It creates an environment primed for weeds, like cheatgrass, that are extremely difficult and costly to eradicate. 

“Fall wildfires have much different implications than a controlled springtime fire,” Bredehoft said. “When fires are used as a management tool to benefit wildlife, they burn at a different temperature in a controlled environment for a specific purpose.”

Hunters are encouraged to take extreme care when building fires at camp and ensure they are completely out before going to bed, leaving for the day or packing out.
 

(Sara DiRienzo (307-777-4540))

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